Indian and Chinese troops clashed anew on their contested Himalayan border, resulting in injuries on both sides, officials said on January 25th.
The fighting actually took place on January 20th, but it wasn’t reported on until a bit later.
India’s military played down the latest skirmish as a “minor face-off” at Naku La pass, which connects Sikkim state with Tibet on the Chinese side.
An Indian military statement said the clash was “resolved by local commanders as per established protocols”.
Indian government sources said five Indian troops and 15 Chinese forces were injured when a Chinese patrol was forced back.
China’s foreign ministry, however, said it had “no information” on the incident.
Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Chinese troops “dedicated themselves to safeguarding the peace and tranquillity” of the border region.
“China urges India to work in the same direction,” he added.
The editor-in-chief of China’s state-affiliated Global Times tweeted there was “no record of this clash in the patrol log of the Chinese side”.
China’s Defense Ministry said in a joint statement with their Indian counterparts released later on Monday that the ninth round of disengagement talks – which have been held since mid-last year – were “positive”, but did not address the latest incident.
The two sides “agreed to push for an early disengagement of the frontline troops” at their shared border in the western Himalayas, it said.
The Chinese government said the talks took over 15 hours and took place on the Chinese side of the Moldo-Chushul border meeting point.
They had also reportedly enhanced mutual trust and understanding, and resulted in both sides willing to maintain momentum generated over multiple rounds of dialogue and negotiation.
“The two sides agreed that this round of meeting was positive, practical and constructive, which further enhanced mutual trust and understanding. The two sides agreed to push for an early disengagement of frontline troops. They also agreed to follow the important consensus of their state leaders, maintain the good momentum of dialogue and negotiation,” the government said.
Tensions between the two countries escalated in early May last year after reports of skirmishes in eastern Ladakh’s Pangong Lake region. The following month, in an unprecedented escalation, 20 Indian soldiers died in a clash in Galwan Valley, in which an unknown number of Chinese soldiers were killed.
Currently some 50,000 Indian troops are deployed in a high state of combat readiness in mountainous locations in eastern Ladakh in sub-zero conditions.
India will not reduce the number of troops unless China initiates the process, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on January 22nd.
It is not specifically known how many troops China has positioned.
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